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IPE At A Tipping Point

Alexandria, VA

Day One of the Macy Conference on Interprofessional Education

Across the U.S. and the world, students from medical, nursing and other health professions schools are participating in interprofessional education (IPE)—learning with, from and about each other. By participating jointly in seminars, working together to solve problems in a classroom setting using role play or simulation exercises, or undertaking clinical placements that require a team-based approach, these students are being exposed to the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors required to improve collaborative practice and quality of care.

While this type of interactive learning across the health professions is still very much on the sidelines—health professions education remains largely designed to produce individual providers—Scott Reeves, Director of the Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Healthcare Education, believes IPE is at a tipping point.

In this morning’s plenary session, Reeves outlined strategies to expand IPE and move it into the mainstream of health professions education. He challenged participants to move away from a focus on their own institutions and work together collectively to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Priorities included:

Synthesizing best practices

We have a rich array of IPE programs being tested and implemented across different settings and with a variety of health professional students, what Reeves characterized as “a smorgasbord of interprofessional activity.” We must tease out trends from these diverse activities and synthesize best practices so we can develop a common battery of models that can be scaled up.

Conducting rigorous assessment
To date, we’ve done a good job at assessing individual behavior and showing how IPE has changed student’s attitudes and perceptions. Now, we need to collect evidence about the long term impact of IPE on behavior and practice. We must also move away from assessing individual students on their competencies, to thinking about how we assess teams of students on collective activities.

Developing faculty
IPE largely relies on a small group of highly dedicated faculty. If we are to expand IPE, we must expand the number of faculty providing this type of education. We must give faculty the right training and evaluate their performance. Institutions must set aside time for faculty to engage in IPE and recognize faculty members who undertake IPE.

“You’ve given us a lot of meat to chew on as we move through the next couple of days,” noted Macy President George Thibault.

Conference participants will dig deeper into these issues and others over the course of the two-day conference.

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